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Ford develops new operation in Israel for car decision-making systems

L-R Prof. Shie Mannor and CEO of  SAIPS Udi Danino - Photo Credit Ran Biran

US automaker Ford will invest $12 million in a new division in Israel to develop a decision-making system for the autonomous vehicle. The purpose of this system is to provide a safe, convenient and fast travel experience while making complex decisions in a dynamic environment in a fraction of a second.

The new division will operate within the framework of SAIPS, which was acquired by Ford two years ago and has since been responsible for the development of key components of the Ford Autonomous Vehicle Program.

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Among many things, SAIPS developed a visual cognition system that enables precise detection and identification of pedestrians and vehicles in the vicinity of the autonomous vehicle even in extreme weather conditions. It allows for the complete construction of a high-resolution three-dimensional map of the cities in which the vehicle will drive itself.

The new division activity will be led by Prof. Shie Mannor, a senior faculty member at the Technion and one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of Reinforcement Learning.

In this field, which is one of the hottest topics in computational learning today, the algorithm interacts with the environment, learning to improve its decision-making policy in accordance with positive or negative reinforcement.

Together with Prof. Mannor, are joining SAIPS four of the graduates of his research lab, Dr. Eli Marom, Dr. Gal Dalal, Dr. Assaf Hallak, and Dr. Elad Gilboa. The team will be led by Dr. Boris Sherman, an expert in computational learning with decades of experience in managing algorithms and software projects.

Ford acquires Israeli startup SAIPS for self-driving computer vision, machine learning 

According to Ken Washington, vice president of Advanced Research and Engineering and Vice President of Technologies at Ford, “We at Ford understand that the development of secure and reliable autonomous vehicles requires breaking the boundaries of current knowledge in computer science and artificial intelligence. I am sure that the new addition to the team will accelerate innovation and enable us to meet the aggressive goals we set ourselves in the drive to build smart vehicles for a smart world.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of removing the boundaries between academia and industry,” said Udi Danino, SAIPS founder and CEO. I am convinced that such moves will not only stimulate research innovation in the high-tech industry but will also lead to the improvement of academic research in Israel. Combining the proven capabilities of SAIPS with the expertise of the research team led by Professor Mannor will enable SAIPS to generate breakthrough innovation throughout the development of the autonomous vehicle. ”

SAIPS was founded in 2013 by CEO Udi Danino, principal algorithms engineer Noga Zieber, who serves as the manager of the US branch, and CTO Rotem Littman. The company has 30 employees most of whom are graduates of elite IDF units and have advanced degrees in engineering, exact sciences and computer science. The company is currently expanding its development centers in Tel Aviv and Haifa and is recruiting algorithms and software experts in the field.

“I am proud and happy to join SAIPS, which has positioned itself as one of the leading artificial intelligence companies in Israel in recent years.” Joining SAIPS and Ford stems from our desire to influence the real world, use the most advanced technologies to shape the future of SAIPS, The intellectual and engineering challenge is enormous and we will use ideas that until now have largely solved games to solve real world problems that require absolute reliability and safety. ”

According to Globes Audi, part of the Volkswagen group is also plan to establish a research and development center in Israel to develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

This activity will be conducted through Automated Intelligent Driving (AID) company founded last year by Volkswagen for the purpose of constituting the group’s “expertise center” and developing software and hardware that will make fully autonomous driving possible by 2021, Globes said.



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